At what point does low calorie become unhealthy?

Discussion in 'Dieting / Supplement Discussion' started by jimbammer, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. jimbammer

    jimbammer White Belt

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    I am familiar with Lyle Mcdonald's "rapid fat loss diet" in which people basically consume mostly protein with little fat and carbs. Following the diet you can be eating well under 1,000 calories. Apparently this diet isn't too bad for you though because of the supplements you are taking and you are getting enough protein...obviously that isn't for the long term though. So for the short term, how low is too low?

    I am probably close to 100 pounds overweight right now, and I was thinking on going on a diet similar to the rapid fat loss diet. Basically I am going to eat enough protein, and not much carbs and fat (though more than you would eat actually doing RFL) and supplementing with 6 fish oil caps, 200 mg of magnesium, using lite salt on my food to get sodium and potassium, a multivitamin, and vit d. I will probably be eating somewhere between 1000-1400 cals a day even though my maintenance is probably around 3000. How healthy is this if I do it for a period of a few months (if I can handle it at least...obviously my will power isn't amazing or I wouldn't be so overweight).

    So how little is too little?
     
  2. cooks1

    cooks1 No matter where you go-there you are Platinum Member

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    Well, You will probably get lots of varying advice on this.

    Personally, my advice would be to do something you can do the rest of your life. Get yourself (depending on your age) down to somewhere around 1750-2000 BALANCED calories a day and exercise more. The weight will come off, and you will be MUCH more likely to maintain the weight loss. Plus you will be a lot less miserable day to day. Once you have lost the weight you want, you can slightly increase your intake.

    Dont' get me wrong, there is a time and a place I'm sure for severe calorie restriction. My guess is that would be when you are either 250+ lbs overweight and trying to lower weight to reduce risk for some kind of fat removel surgery. Or perhaps for someone who is in really good shape, but is trying to sculpt for a bodybuilding competition or hit a weight for a MMA or other combat-type competition. You are in neither of these situations.
     
  3. pliftkl

    pliftkl Green Belt

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    I'm not going to address the healthiness of this, even though it's your question.

    If you are 100 pounds overweight, then moving to a 1400 calorie a day diet that consists of mostly protein is going to be a radical departure for you, and it will probably fail. Even if such a diet ripped off 4 pounds of fat a week, you are still talking about doing a very extreme diet for a full 6 months.

    Everybody wants results as fast as possible, even though they are trying to break years of fat build up and bad dietary and exercise habits. If you lost 2 pounds a week (something you could do without any extreme dieting), you'd lose your 100 pounds in one year. It would be such an awesome transformation that you'll astonish your friends and family, and you'll be considered the king guru of fat loss. People you barely know will ask you "How did you do it?" And all this despite the fact that you don't really have to do anything special to lose 2 pounds of fat per week. All you need to do is introduce about 1000 calories of deficit to your diet over what you are eating today. Now, 1000 calories sounds like a lot, but if you do this partially with exercise (walk for 45 minutes every morning) and partially with diet (cut out 500 calories a day), you'll find that you don't have to do very much to get to where you want to be.
     
  4. Mooney

    Mooney Blue Belt

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    It would all depend on your weight and how much excersice you do. Either way i don't think it's so good to go too low on calories. With a good excersice routine and say a 500-1000 calorie deficit you will lose weight. It wont be over night but it's alot easier to stick to than dropping insane amounts of calories. Some days you will eat less than other days, and eventually you might hit a plateau in which case it can be a good thing to up you calories again for a day or two.
    Just cut most of the processed foods from your diet, eat a bit less and start excersising more.
     
  5. Aluminati

    Aluminati Platinum ordo seclorum

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    Watch your caloric intake and weight for one week.
    Find out if you currently lose or gain weight eating normally.

    Calculate your base metabolic rate for your weight.
    Calculate your base metabolic rate for your ideal weight.
    Try to eat in between those two, no more than a 1000 calorie daily deficit , and lose the bulk of your weight by increasing your activity level.

    Shit takes time and discipline, if you don't have either, you're fucked.
    There is no magic pill, but surgical options are available if you're desperate.
     
  6. XTrainer

    XTrainer Red Belt

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    What's the point of crash dieting when you're 100lbs overweight? Read the stickies, clean up your diet, and start exercising, and you'll lose a ton of weight (and be much healthier) without going through the physically and mentally stressful process of a crash diet.

    There's no point in talking about ultra-low calorie diets until you're already in reasonably good shape.
     
  7. jimbammer

    jimbammer White Belt

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    Basically I am sticking to a walk a day that is about a mile or so (though it is extremely hot when I do it and I am pushing my son in a stroller). I am about 290 pounds right now and I would be in good shape at about 185 I think.

    I plan on eating 2 cheat meals a week at scheduled times that will help me keep sane and possibly stop my metabolism from going down.
     
  8. jimbammer

    jimbammer White Belt

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    Really....I would have thought it would be the opposite. Well I am going to see if this diet is sustainable for the time being and keep it up if it works. Basically this diet isn't going to be much harder than a diet that is around 2000 cals for me.
     
  9. dropshot001

    dropshot001 Red Belt

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    if you start out with an ultra low calorie diet, it will be hard to adjust from there. most diets will begin higher in cals and as you start to stall you subtract a few cals here and there....if you start low, you won't have anywhere to go calorie wise because you have so little to work with originally.
     
  10. KILL KILL

    KILL KILL Gold Belt

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    Nope. You got to where you're at by not exercising and having a shit diet. get your daily nutrients and skip all the trash and exercise and you'll be fine
     
  11. cooks1

    cooks1 No matter where you go-there you are Platinum Member

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    I don't know a lot about your physical condition. But if you are injury free, and do not have a heart or other condition that prevents you from exercising, I would suggest that you need to do a fair bit more exercise than a daily 1 mile stroll. Regular exercise will help keep your metabolism from slowing better than the occasional cheat meal.

    Plenty of things you can do exercise-wise that are low impact. Various weight training, cycling, rowing machines are excellemt. Swimming is fantastic and very low impact.

    Most people that get fat think they need to go on a diet, when what they really need to do is exercise more.

    Let me put it this way. If your weight is not fluctuating right now, and you are maintaining your current 290 lb weight with your current diet, you would likely lose 2 lbs a week or so with 45 minutes of daily brisk exercise, nothing too traumatic, AND NO CHANGE TO YOUR DIET. Make a few common sense changes to your diet, and the loss would possibly be more pronounced.

    VERY few people lose substantial amounts of weight and keep it off long term without a commitment to regular exercise. A daily 1 mile walk is activity to be sure, but do not fool yourself into thinking that is exercise.
     
  12. cooks1

    cooks1 No matter where you go-there you are Platinum Member

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    Many people think as you do about this, of course they are mistaken. Sudden dramatic calorie deprivation is a pretty serious disruption to the body. If the body is already in poor condition, it is harder for it to adjust.

    Like most here, I think you are on the wrong course with this crash diet. But if you insist on doing it, do not do it to the exclusion of real regular exercise. It would also be better to GRADUALLY decrease your intake down to this amount over a period of 6weeks or so, as opposed to doing it all at once. For Christ sakes, even bodbuilders and professional athletes gradually taper down their intake as opposed to going from 3000 calories a day to 1200 overnight.

    In short-Eat a little less and a little better, exercise a lot more. That is an infinitely better path.
     
  13. jimbammer

    jimbammer White Belt

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    I think I am just going to have a baseline of 3 meals that will be a little under 500 calories each, and then eat some stuff in between meals so I'm not too low on my calories. I don't want to feel light headed or sluggish because I'm not eating enough.
     
  14. danielsan4610

    danielsan4610 Blue Belt

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    Agreed with most of what people have said. I have a friend who is 350lbs and goes on diets every few months. He loses about 10lbs and then gives up. His "diets" are too drastic and he gives up. I try to explain what he is doing wrong but he is stubborn and won't listen because he has it in his head that because he lost weight in the past doing it then what he did was working.

    Anyway, you have the right idea of limiting carbs and sugars but eating fat doesn't make you fat, eating more calories than your body can use does. I'd need to know your current weight to provide better advice but as someone else mentioned, you need he right mindset. You can't look at losing 100lbs as a diet. You have to look at it as this is how you are going to live your life from here on out. Restricting yourself to that few calories is a recipe for failure and there won't be anyway you'll stick to it. It's a short term fix and the results will fade fast.

    Plug in your numbers HERE.

    Once you get an idea what your BMR is, you can track your progress. Let's say you are 5'10" and 200lbs. Your BMR is around 2000 calories. This is the amount of calories your body would burn by itself by doing nothing but laying in bed all day. This is the amount of calories your body needs to function as is and maintain your current bodyweight.

    Make a list of all of the food you eat in a day and add up the calories. Look at your BMR and reduce your calories by 500. If it says 2000, eat 1500 calories. Any exercise or movement on top of that is only going to further reduce your calories for the day.

    Find replacement foods high in protein and reduce your carb intake as much as possible. Stick with a reduced 500 calorie diet until your weigh starts coming off and gradually keep lowering your calorie intake to compensate for the lesser weight. Try checking your BMR every 10 or so pounds and adjust as needed.

    This is far less strain on your body and while you won't see drastic results, you are conditioning your body to take in less calories and the pounds will stay off.
     
  15. Clint07

    Clint07 You like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature?

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    While I agree that the extreme low calorie is probably unnecessary at this point, if you are serious and want to give it a shot then I say go for it.

    However let me warn you, the first few days (typically 3 for me) are fucking terrible but you have to tough them out, once you get past those you will feel much better. Don't go and gorge yourself and at 290 don't overdo the exercise but be sure to get as much as you can handle and still recover.
     
  16. Origins

    Origins Blue Belt

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    I just want to say that I applaud you for being serious about committing to a healthier lifestyle and for finding some decent information about it. So many overweight folks go through life without really trying to be healthier and just doing fad diets that they hear about at the grocery store.

    Also, Lyle McDonald is a fine nutritionist, but his primary interest is in nutrition for bodybuilding. Even if this diet helps you lose a bunch of weight very quickly, what then? You won't be able to go back to your old eating habits and stay the same weight. It will all come right back on. You don't need a crash diet, you need a lifestyle change. You will still lose weight just following these rules, and you will have the know-how to keep it off and live a happier, healthier life.

    Either way you go, I encourage you to stick around this forum through your fat-loss journey and read through the FAQ's. There is a load of quality information around here if you are willing to look for it. Good luck!
     
  17. pliftkl

    pliftkl Green Belt

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    Lyle took a fairly big athletic swing a few years back (including moving so that he could train in speed skating iirc). While he still writes about dieting for aesthetics, he writes a fair amount about nutrition for athletes.
     
  18. GJJNY

    GJJNY Purple Belt

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    Be careful with these, according to that, I need 3,000 cal a day to MAINTAIN. I'd BLOW UP at 3k cal a day. I'm a FFB who can gain by taking a sniff of McDonald's.

    If you really want your BMR tested find a place that will do it via breathing. I think its called the 'Body Gem' and its the most accurate way I know of. Also get all your stats taken, bf%, waist/thigh/arm measurements so you can track progress if the number on the scale doesn't move (which it may not even in times of fat loss). Hell, it may even go up and cause you to freak out.
     
  19. danielsan4610

    danielsan4610 Blue Belt

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    You are confusing BMR with BMI. BMI assumes everyone has the same shape and bone structure so a 200lb guy at 5'10 is considered obese even if they were shredded. BMR is just basic science. There are multipliers you can add to factor in your fitness level for greater accuracy. Anyway, I think BMR is a good starting point for someone. You'll know how your body reacts and what it needs with time.
     
  20. GJJNY

    GJJNY Purple Belt

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    No, I'm talking BMR. I know I'd get fat on 3k calories a day, a generic height/weight/age calculator that doesn't take individual metabolic physiology into account is to be used a guide, not law.

    To prove the point, my BMR is/was about 2k calories, my breath tested BMR was 1700 when it was tested some years back. If I took the 2k*1.xx I could have been overeating hundreds of calories a day and gained when I could have been looking to lose. Again, it was close, but if I took it as gospel I could have went the opposite route I was hoping to achieve.

    Also, those 'multipliers' are subjective...what is "strenuous activity" to me could be "light" to someone else, again skewing the number results to real life results. I'd imagine most people overestimate their exercise output when faced with vague options like those. That said, if you want to go deeper, if you want to take into account metabolic issues some folks have (especially the overly obese) then you're really getting into the quagmire of generic caloric calculators.
     

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